Against A Constitutional Conventional...
Just say no to holding a state constitutional convention.
Our state constitution protects man of the rights and benefits that are important to all New Yorkers. Any changes to the Constitution could jeopardize rights and benefits that are now protected, including: pensions, organizing into unions, collective bargaining, contract rights, wages, workers compensation and workplace safety and health, civil rights and social welfare, civil service appointments and promotions, public education, and environmental protection.
The convention is a bad idea for several reasons.
First, it's expensive. When the last convention was held in 1967, it cost taxpayers about $6.5 million. In 2015 dollars, tat totals more than $46 million.
The 1967 convention also featured many delegates who were already political insiders. If a convention is a[approved, delegates would be elected in 2018. Delegates to the convention set their own rules, hire their own staff, and get the pay of a state legislator (at least $79,000 per annum), plus pension credit. There is no time limit on how long a convention could last. All of these factors contribute to the taxpayer cost.
Furthermore, voters may reject amendments passed during the convention , potentially making it a waste of time and money.
There is an easy way to change the state Constitution. Bills can be passed through the state Legislature to propose as questions on the ballots during general elections. The state Constitution has been amended in this manner more than 200 times since 1894, most recently in 2013 when voters decided on several ballot questions, including casino in New York.
Shawangunk Intersection Needs More Help
The intersection of Route 300 and Plains Road in the town of Shawangunk is dangerous. It has been the site of many serious accidents in recent years.
A recent petition by community residents gained over 200 signatures in support of an activated traffic light vs. the current blinking light. The state Department of Transportation recently denied the town's request for an activated traffic light. I urge the state to reconsider its position, as in the past month alone there have been multiple accidents.
In Praise Of Project Cat's Great Work
I have been involved in the animal welfare community for the past 20 years and served on the Ulster County SPCA board of directors for nine years. For the past three years, I have volunteered at Project Cat in Accord.
Recently there has been a fury of disparaging and erroneous accusations about the executive director of Project Cat, Gail Mihocko. These false allegations are damaging to the reputation of an organization whose mission is to help homeless and suffering cats.
Project Cat is an impeccable shelter where cats can live safely and comfortably until they are adopted. Gail responds to many calls from people requesting her help, often after they have exhausted their options by calling other agencies that fail to help them, due to lack of space or resources. The homeless cat crisis is overwhelming, leaving thousands of cats that will never receive help.
I am keenly aware of conflicting philosophies concerning the practice of trap, neuter and release and have had personal experience as a caretaker of a feral cat colony. Cats living outdoors suffer and die from diseases, freezing temperatures, attacks by other animals, etc. They are not wildlife that fend for themselves.
Passions run high among people trying to help animals. It is easy to become combative, instead of setting differences aside and learning to coexist.
In closing, Gail Mihocko runs Project Cat with the utmost integrity and professionalism and should not be maligned by those who disagree with her.
State Democrats Need To Fix Their Party
Last year I ran for a seat on the New York State Democratic Committee, campaigning on a promise to speak up for the thousands of Democrats in Ulster County who care deeply about our core values of fairness, inclusivity, transparency and respect for the democratic process.
As a first step toward keeping that promise, I have introduced five proposed changes to the rules of the state Democratic Party that, if adopted, will make it more democratic in the way it operates. What I've learned since getting elected to the state committee, which is the official organization of the party statewide, is that its members actually have very little say in party affairs and decision-making. Meetings are announced last-minute and members are typically offered "up or down" votes on items pre-decided by the officers and executive committee — the majority of whom were not elected to the state committee.
The state committee can and should be a vital mechanism for listening to and integrating the voices of the Democratic Party base into leadership at the state level. This is the kind of bottom-up representation that gives our party its strength. This is how we organize to win.
A coalition of state committee members, both long-timers and newbies like me, will be advocating for the five rule changes at the next state committee meeting on July 25, and registered Democrats across New York can help by signing an online petition that urges party leaders to adopt the common-sense reforms. All the details, including the exact rule changes and a link to the petition, can be found at GrassrootsDemsNY.org.
At a time when more and more Democrats are stepping up and engaging in the political process, pressing our government officials to act in line with our values, we must insist that our party does the same.
New York State Democratic Committeewoman,
103rd Assembly District, Ulster County
Why The Growing Number Of Fist Pumps?
I enjoy watching championship tennis on TV, but I am increasingly displeased by the pumped fists after every won point, the wide-mouthed screaming, the snarls; once I watched as a highest-ranked player turned to the spectators and urged them to applaud and cheer his skill. Another top-seeded did the same thing. This audience paid good money for their seats, and they can sit on their hands if they choose. Of course I also detest the contestants wearing advertisements — the #1 had a Nike swoosh symbol on his head-band, on his shirt, and on his shoes; probably on his underwear too. Adidas also does well. My favorite was a guy named Muller who beat the champion Nadal. After the winning volley he didn't jump up and down or fall to his knees and cover his little face — he stood there, quietly and still, with his mouth open as though he had just watched his pet dog get run over. We need more reverence in our sports.
Rev. Finley Schaef
Healthcare Policies Should Do No Harm
In a letter to his constituents dated July 5, 2017, Congressman John Faso says "The ACA raised taxes by $1 trillion, including new payroll taxes for employers, business investments, and taxes on over-the-counter drugs and medical device manufacturers."
None of these taxes cause as great a hardship as losing health insurance, which will cause many unnecessary deaths. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates 22 to 24 million losing their insurance nationally.
Somebody has to pay for health insurance and the average family cannot, not in a monopolized market in which prices are increasingly arbitrary.
Health care is the responsibility of the whole community. Either we create a divided society where the middle and upper classes live in gated communities, while the poor are cowed by highly armed police. Or we live in a community that means health care should be a right, not a privilege. We just have to figure out how to pay for it, since the average householder cannot.
The GOP "healthcare" bills are a monumental scam to pay off corporations and wealthy supporters on the backs of millions, who will lose the only health insurance they ever had. Employees could also lose their policies in a "free market" healthcare system. Millions will be enraged!
Do you really want to cooperate in the destruction of the Republican Party?
Douglas C. Smyth, Ph.D
Christians Should Home School Their Children
It's time for professing Christians to home school our children.
The reasons are numerous. Our values differ (or should) from those of the National Education Association and many administrators. The government decided years ago the state religion was secular humanism and that it alone would be taught in schools. That's fine, give unto Caesar. But our children are not Caesar's; they are God's. Under no other circumstances would we send our children to be educated by those who despise our values.
If we are not home schooling, we must honestly search ourselves. Do we love our children enough to give them the best education? Do we value their character and their relationship with their creator? Are we lazy or afraid? Do we value our economic status and material well-being more than our children? These are tough questions that might need to be asked.
I understand there are circumstances where someone must send their children to public schools. Single parents must go to work. But for the rest, what is our excuse? Today, support and resources are abundant. We owe it to our children to give them the best, to build firm foundations and equip them to survive the fiery darts of the world. What are our priorities? What is really important? The question shouldn't be "should I home school?" but "why am I not home schooling?"
I never understood those back-to-school commercials where the parents are so happy. I love my children and want them with me.
Sides With Ulster Against Being A Sanctuary
We thank the Ulster County Legislature for voting down the sanctuary county law.
The biggest problem with immigration is that we did not enforce the laws, resulting in people not knowing the rules, often disobeying the rules and then feeling entitled. They can also be manipulated and abused, which has happened in many cases.
The resiliency of a democratic form of government is based on its citizens and governmental agencies adhering to its laws. Without that philosophy, you no longer have a trued government of the people, by the people and for the people.
In order for a democracy and its people to thrive, we need a sense of who we are as a nation, including borders which define us and a strong cultural identity while embracing legal immigration. Without any of these components, you create a threshold for anarchy and the emergence of an oligarchic form of government in which we all lose. We become the pawns in the grab for power.
Thanks to the proven leadership of our county legislators and their adherence to the rule of law, Ulster County residents can be assured that our elected officials continue to promote a true democracy.
Michael and Joan Paccione
Most Of The World Cares More About Health!
Thirty-two of 33 developed nations have universal healthcare with the United States the lone exception. The cost to us is 50-100 percent higher per capita than these other countries, yet the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. at 37 out of 199 in healthcare outcome. With what we spend we should be number one. Big pharma is a disgrace. Regeneron CEO was paid over $47 million in 2016. In 2010 United Health Care CEO reportedly made $101.96 million. They also own millions of shares in their companies and we pay the dividends. There are dozens of pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, as you well know, operating the same way.
We need radical change if we are going to be great again! Why can Denmark charge a 45 percent tax rate and yet everything is paid for from cradle to grave: healthcare, child care, university, nursing home care, etc. And you people want to cut Medicaid for the poor and give it to the rich! Where's the logic? So, we struggle on and watch our kids do the same.
I would say we are riddled with greed and more greed to keep the wealthy wealthy. We feel our Washington representatives are playing us and pretending to fix a broken health-care system. Lies and a "swamp" that's been filled by this administration stinks to high heaven. Let the rest of the world show Mr. Trump how to "Make America great again."